Contributing Author: Mary Ashley, NDAA Well-being Task Force Vice Chair

Have you ever started a new diet? A new fitness regimen? A new routine of any kind? If so, you know the concept of “today is day one” of whatever your new plan is going to be. Now, have you ever fallen off that new plan, program or regimen? Did you beat yourself up about it? Think you had failed? Never try again? Think again. That was merely one day. With a play on two words, your whole outlook can change.

It was during a peer support team training class on psychological first aid that I became familiar with the “one day/day one” concept. When someone is in crisis, it can be important to focus on the idea that while something bad happened today, tomorrow can be “day one” of something good, or at least something different than today. And it’s true. So many of us tend to be “all or nothing” people who allow ourselves to spiral out of control and create self-loathing if we aren’t perfect all the time and things don’t go according to plan. We surrender our power over our own attitudes to something that happened to us or a poor choice we made “one day.” I’ve since seen this concept quoted in several motivational articles and videos.

As Bruno Mirchevski in The Logician’s Blog (March 2, 2020) writes in his Medium.com essay, the main difference between one day and day one lies in delaying your goals versus actually working towards them. We’ve all heard the expression “one day I want to . . .” and many times, one day turns into never. I’m flipping the switch for my own daily outlook and using “one day” as an honest coping strategy for what might have been better that day, but quickly inserting “day one” to correct and move forward to the next.

We can always choose how we look at something, decide what to do to make a change, and acknowledge what may have gone wrong. Simply creating a list, finding resources, making a realistic timeline, preparing a healthy meal or just doing one thing different the next day to shape the future, is the start of your day one. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. Instead of saying “I didn’t achieve what I wanted to today,” try being “ok” with the choice and make the next day better. And then do it.

While I don’t know who first said it, I’m a big fan of the expression “your best looks different on different days.” While running several miles one day might be your best, perhaps walking three miles while talking through a problem with a friend is the best you can do on another day. Different doesn’t always mean less or failure. Sometimes it’s just different. There is value is trying over again and not giving up, far greater value than thinking “I’m no good” or “it’s never going change”. Find some comfort in accepting that none of us is perfect but all of us can achieve great things if we want to. And by great things, I mean big, small or somewhere in between. Whatever “great” is for you and your life, that is the accomplishment.

In the words of famous author Paulo Coelho, “One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Do it now.” I couldn’t agree more. Just because today wasn’t your day one, it doesn’t mean tomorrow can’t be. Let’s not talk ourselves out of our dreams and goals by letting one day keep us stuck. Maybe today is your day one.

Well-being Task Force Vice Chair, Mary Ashley, is a Deputy District Attorney with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. Along with being a Board member of NDAA, Mary is also a member of the California District Attorneys Association and NDAA’s Vice Chair of the Women Prosecutors Section.

The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) is the oldest and largest national organization representing state and local prosecutors in the country.